Two things make Siamese cats stand out from the crowd: their unusual voices and their distinctive coat markings. If you have ever seen newborn Siamese kittens you may have questions surrounding certain changes in them that occur soon after.
Do Siamese cats change color? Siamese kittens are born white but begin to change color soon after birth. The Siamese color change is temperature-related but the color that emerges is genetically coded. How Why Siamese cats change color is explained later.
It’s normal for kittens to change color but if an older Siamese cat changes color this can indicate a high body temperature caused by an illness.
Why Siamese Cats Change Color
The color of a Siamese cat’s coat is directly affected by the temperature of its skin. The warmer it is, the paler its coat remains. Siamese kittens are born white because they have spent 9 weeks developing in a warm womb which averages about 101⁰ F. At this temperature, a Siamese cat’s fur stays white.
From approximately 1 week of age, a Siamese kitten’s coat begins to change color at its extremities as these areas are naturally cooler. The darker patches are known as points. This color change occurs in areas where the skin temperature falls below 98⁰ F, hence their legs, face, ears, and tail. The depth of color depends on temperature but the color itself is controlled by genetics.
The color change in Siamese cats is controlled by the presence of the Himalayan gene which prevents the production of melanin at temperatures above 98⁰ F. Heat suppresses an enzymatic coat color change which is only activated when the skin temperature falls below 98⁰ F. So about a week after they are born, their neck and body remain white whilst their extremities begin to turn darker.
Siamese Cat Point Colors
Temperature causes the points of your Siamese cat to turn darker. Genetic coding determines the actual color that emerges.
Seal point, blue point, chocolate point, and lilac point are the four naturally occurring colors in purebred Siamese cats.
Other point colors which are the results of breeding programs include fawn, cinnamon, caramel, lynx, tortie, red, cream, apricot, and tabby.
Do Siamese cats change color with the seasons? A Siamese cat sheds its winter undercoat in the spring. If you live in a fairly hot climate, your cat’s summer coat will lighten due to the warm temperature. In the fall, your cat’s winter coat will emerge and the colder its environment is the darker this fur will become. So, yes, changes in the seasons can affect the color of a Siamese cat.
Other Causes of Color Changes
Raised Body Temperature
If a mature Siamese cat’s points begin to fade this could mean its body temperature is elevated above 98⁰F. In this situation, take your cat to the vet for a health check to rule out any underlying medical condition.
All cats love basking in the sun and the Siamese is no exception. They seem able to find the smallest sunny spots and squeeze into them. One of my Maine Coons moves along the garden seat as the sun moves until he’s hanging on to the very edge.
You may notice some of the black fur in a Siamese cat’s points turn reddish-brown if exposed to too much the sun as the sun actually bleaches out some of color in the same way it lightens human hair. The sun is able to have this effect on indoor cats too as they often lay by windows and the sun still manages to lighten fur through the glass – you have probably noticed how it fades your furniture too.
Black Siamese cat fur can also begin turning rusty brown due to a deficiency of the enzyme tyrosine which is responsible for the production of melanin, the pigment that gives black fur its color. As it is melanin that protects cats from the sun (just like with us), take care that a cat with this condition doesn’t get sunburned. If your black cat is looking a little rusty in color all of a sudden it’s a good idea to take it to the vets for a full diagnosis.
If your cat is deficient in tyrosine it’s probably time to overhaul its diet. All purpose-made cat food should contain the correct amount of vitamins and minerals to keep your cat healthy so check the brand you are serving up.
If you make your own cat food (raw or cooked) ensure you follow recommended guidelines and add the necessary nutrients as they are essential for your Siamese cat’s health. If you have been giving your cat a vegetarian diet this could be the cause of its tyrosine deficiency as this enzyme is found in protein foods such as chicken and fish.
As well as a lack of tyrosine, low zinc or copper can also cause black fur to lighten but if you ensure you give your cat a balanced diet the symptoms should reverse.
For more information about essential cat vitamins and minerals, our article Best supplements for Cats lists our top choices.
Certain health conditions that affect a cat’s metabolism of tyrosine may also cause your Siamese cat’s black fur to fade. Liver disease is one example. Thyroid and kidney problems could also be to blame. You should always seek a diagnosis from a vet if your Siamese cat’s dark fur begins to lighten when there is no change in its body temperature.
It’s not unusual for a cat to start getting gray hairs as it ages. The darker your Siamese cat’s points, the more you might notice this in its old age.
Can a Siamese Cat Be Black
Technically a Siamese cat is black. It’s the Himalayan gene that prevents the production of melanin and so stops the color developing in most parts of the cat’s body (as mentioned earlier). A Siamese simply would not thrive if it was subjected to the cold temperatures that would cause the black color to develop all over. If you think you have (or know of) a solid black Siamese it is likely to be the result of cross-breeding a Siamese with a solid black cat.
Do Siamese Cats Change Color? – Conclusion
It is only Siamese kittens that change color from solid white when their point colors develop. Their actual color never changes after this other than to darken or lighten with environmental temperature changes. Older Siamese cats may show fading of black colors to reddish-after sun exposure, because of diet deficiencies or due to an illness.